Everyone learns in different ways. Some like to learn from experience — by poking around and breaking (and fixing) things. Others like to take courses, while some people learn best from books.
When it comes to Linux, there’s no shortage of books on the subject. Since I started using Linux in 1999, I’ve read more than my share of those tomes. One that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while is Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches by Steven Ovadia.
The name of the author might sound familiar to you. Steven Ovadia, if you don’t know, ran the Linux Rig blog and did the excellent The Linux Setup interview series. So he knows a thing or three about Linux. But how does Ovadia’s knowledge and enthusiasm translate into a book? Let’s find out.
First off, Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches isn’t aimed at the programmer, sysadmin, DevOps person, or anyone else with (or wanting to pick up) deep technical chops. It’s aimed at the average computer user who wants to switch to Linux from Windows or MacOS, or use Linux in parallel with those operating systems. The goal of this book is to make you immediately effective with Linux by giving you just enough information to get started.
What makes the book successful is Ovadia’s measured, systematic approach to the subject. As the title suggests, by spending 30 to 60 minutes a day over the space of a month, you can learn what you need to learn to get up and running with Linux (and then some!).
Ovadia doesn’t toss you into the deep end. He starts off by looking at popular Linux distributions, and then gives a detailed (though non-technical) explanation of how to install Linux using a USB flash drive.
From there, you get a tour of popular window managers and the basics of working with common productivity tools — like LibreOffice and The GIMP — and move on to an introduction to working with files and folder. Don’t worry, Ovadia also devotes more than a few words to working in the terminal and using a few common command line utilities.
There’s a lot of other information packed into the book, too. Such as:
- Working with hardware.
- Dealing with dependencies (which every Linux user loves doing!).
- An introduction to virtualization.
- The basics of version control with Git.
All of that is explained in a clear, accessible, easy-to-read and understand writing style. This book is a solid example of what good technical writing should be.
At 281 pages, Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches isn’t a comprehensive tome. And it’s not intended to be. Steven Ovadia knows that the easiest way to drive away a newbie is to overwhelm them with information and choice. Instead, this books gives the new Linux user enough knowledge to lay a foundation. If they want or need to, they can build upon that foundation.
Over the years, I’ve read and (in some cases) reviewed a number of books focusing on Linux. Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches is easily the best book aimed at new Linux users that I’ve read. Period. It’s easy to read, goes into just enough technical depth, and goes into just enough detail. And even though I’ve been using Linux for a while, I learned a thing or two from Steven Ovadia’s book.